Checking a Vehicle

Checking a Vehicle

Once you've found a car you like, it's important you spend some time checking it over. Make sure you know what to check and where you can get further information.

If you're buying a vehicle there's a risk it could have a hidden past. Find out how to avoid buying a stolen or illegal car.

Stolen Vehicles

The onus is on buyers to ensure their next vehicle isn't a stolen one. Even if a vehicle is bought in good faith, An Garda Síochána can seize it and if it has been bought on finance, the lender can still demand payment.

Stolen vehicles are usually passed on with their identity changed, but there are some golden rules to help reduce the risk of buying a 'hot' vehicle.

  • Always invest in a history check - it'll immediately reveal if a car is stolen or written-off (
  • Ask to see an original copy of the logbook
  • Stolen vehicles are often sold without the logbook, with the seller claiming it has been sent off for updating - it may be the case, but there's no way of checking
  • Ensure the seller's address on the logbook matches that of their driving license, passport or utility bill
  • Check the number plate and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) match those recorded on the logbook


A clocked vehicle is one where an unscrupulous seller has 'wound back' the mileage recorded on the milometer. That means vehicles with high mileage could be passed-off as having a low mileage to an unwitting buyer. But spotting a clocked vehicle can be straightforward with little more than a bit of detective work.

  • Check the mileage appearing on the milometer and if the instrument cluster tallies with its service history and old NCT certificates.
  • Check the general condition matches its age and mileage - worn seats and steering wheel or lots of stone chips can point to high mileage
  • If it has patchy or no service history, a history check can help verify the mileage (